Market snapshot: Fishermen's Bay


The area on Little Sarasota Bay across from southern Siesta Key is home to a number of beautiful neighborhoods, including Fishermen’s Bay.

The area was developed in the early 1920s when two families, the Gibsons and the Wrens, bought a tract of land from the estate of Bertha Potter Palmer, the Chicago socialite and businesswoman who championed Sarasota in its early years.

bay2They named it Vamo, combining the postal abbreviations for their home states of Virginia and Missouri. For many years, it was a commercial fishing community with mangroves and large areas of woodlands, and only a smattering of families made it their home. It wasn’t until the late 1950s that residential subdivisions, such as Tropical Shores, and, later, Pelican Cove, sprang up.

In 1992, Jim Spear developed Fishermen’s Bay, an enclave of high-end homes just south of Tropical Shores. Accessible from Wharf Road off Vamo Road, the gated waterfront community is so well hidden that few outsiders even know it is there.

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The 17 houses, on 22 half-acre sites, include luxurious mansions in a variety of architectural styles. Each is custom built and has a deeded dock — even the houses not directly on the water have boat slips. Three of the homeowners bought adjacent lots to enlarge their properties, and two lots remain empty.

Seven of the 17 houses are on the bay shore.

The water is too shallow for large boats, but many residents use small boats for fishing and going to dinner at waterfront restaurants — Turtles Restaurant and Ophelia’s on the Bay are just across the Intracoastal Waterway on Siesta Key.

The community fishing pier is a gathering spot where people go to read, relax, have a cocktail at sunset and meet their neighbors.

The single street, Fishermen’s Bay Drive, has a center median close to the entrance and ends in an attractive cul de sac. Lush, subtropical landscaping is found throughout.

“The whole community is very pretty, very ‘Old Florida’ in feel, and very private,” said Sylvia Zimmerman, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co. She has one of the three current listings in the neighborhood, priced at $2 million. A waterfront property, it was one of the first houses built in the neighborhood.

“The owners were one of those who bought the lot next door, so they basically have their own park,” Zimmerman said.

In addition to two docks, the house has a kayak launch between the mangroves. “It’s very rare to have a property with 200 feet of waterfront for under $2 million,” Zimmerman said. “They also have a permit to trim the mangroves in front of their property annually, so they have these magnificent views at sunset over Siesta Key.”

The three-story home has four bedrooms with more than 4,000 square feet under air, an elevator and a guest apartment off one of the balconies, connected by the roof but with a separate entrance.

“It’s like a guest studio with separate bath,” says Zimmerman.

Another property, listed by June Howell and Lenore Treiman, also with Michael Saunders, is a two-story, three-bedroom Key West-style home on the cul de sac with nearly 3,200 square feet under air. It also has balconies and a covered sundeck. Substantially remodeled in 2003, it is priced at $869,000.

The third property on the market, listed by Tom Coppola of Coppola Realty Group, is a six-bedroom, 6,756-square-foot near-mansion. Priced at $2.95 million, it was the 2004 ASID Designer Showcase house and features a home theater, a 1,000-bottle wine room, and an entire floor dedicated to the master suite.

The empty lots have a community easement running through them from before the community was developed to provide a walkway to the water for homes farther inland. According to Zimmerman, no one uses it anymore, and the owner is working on resolving the issue.

“They will eventually be built on,” she said.

Small county parks provide water access just to the north and south of the enclave, on Wharf and Vamo roads.

Fishermen’s Bay attracts a mix of residents — some retirees, but also a number of younger professionals, including an attorney and a home builder.

Several have children and appreciate the proximity to Pine View School and the other public schools — Gulf Gate Elementary, Sarasota Middle and Riverview High School.

Residents love the privacy and surrounding amenities.

Westfield Sarasota Square Mall is less than a mile up Vamo Road across U.S 41. Restaurants, banks, golf courses and the YMCA also are nearby.

“This enclave is truly for those who appreciate the natural charm of the old Florida lifestyle in a most convenient location,” Zimmerman said.


Last modified: July 5, 2014
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